Wole Soyinka @ 90: A celebration of legacy and commitment to nation building

Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka turns 90 this July, and a grand celebration is planned to honour his life and works. 

The 15th edition of the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE), according to a statement, will be held in two parts: Nigeria (July 13-16) and London (July 19-27).

The theme, “E.N.I.O.G.U.N – Engaging National Interest on Good Governance, Understanding and Nation-Building,” reflects Soyinka’s lifelong dedication to social justice and his unwavering commitment to his homeland, Nigeria.

The celebration will centre around the youth, the future leaders who will carry the torch of nation-building. Kicking off in Nigeria, students will participate in an essay competition titled “The Many Lives of an Irresistible Patriot, Humanist & Rights Activist.” Winners will be announced on Soyinka’s birthday, July 13th.

A “Do-Your-Own-Thing” (DYOT) event will follow, showcasing the creative talents of over 1,000 young people through music, dance, spoken word and more. The evening will culminate in a vibrant display of sight and sound performances.

The play The Noble Warrior – Eni Ogun, inspired by Soyinka’s legacy, will be presented in Abeokuta. Additionally, Live Theatre Lagos will stage Soyinka’s classic, The Lion and the Jewel.

An Advocacy Session, co-hosted by the WSICE and the Nigeria Academy of Letters, will feature prominent scholars and activists discussing the theme. A reception for guests will be hosted by a member of the diplomatic community.

The London leg of the celebration, titled “Nine Seasons of Kongi,” will be held at the Africa Centre. Here, visitors can explore the “African I-D-E-N-T-I-T-Y (AI)” exhibition, focusing on good governance, democracy, and the challenges of corruption.

Another exhibition, “WS: A Life in Full,” will showcase portraits and artworks depicting Soyinka’s life journey. A highlight will be the London premiere of The Man Died, a film based on Soyinka’s prison memoir.

Organised by the OpenDoorSeries ProjectWS, WSICE aims to promote human dignity through arts and culture. It fosters unity among diverse communities and empowers young people to become future leaders for positive change.

This 15th edition promises a vibrant celebration of Wole Soyinka’s immense contributions to literature, social justice, and nation-building. It’s a testament to his enduring legacy and an inspiration for generations to come.

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